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With the way the game was moving, like a see-saw with equally weighted kids on either end, Chatham had a fighting chance. Yarmouth-Dennis had just inched ahead by one in the top of the ninth and Jeff Gelinas (Maine) was brought on to strand runners at second and third. He pinpointed a fastball on the inside corner to pinch hitter Brennon Lund, so much so that the cracking of Lund’s bat reverberated throughout Veterans Field.
But Lund still got enough of the pitch to float a single over the head of second baseman Bryant Burleson (Texas Tech), who was playing up on the infield grass. It was a perfect pitch that yielded an imperfect result.
“It’s just how it goes,” said Burleson of the single that fell on the dirt between first and second. “It was the right call to have us up to cut off the run from third but if we’re back we make the play. Just tough luck. That’s baseball.”
Lund’s single pushed the Red Sox (16-14) ahead of the Anglers (13-16-1) 6-3, and that stood as the final score on Thursday night. After Chatham beat Y-D twice earlier this season at Red Wilson Field, the visitors returned the favor with a strong start from Cody Poteet, timely hitting and a solid performance from Phil Bickford out of the pen. Bickford allowed the Anglers to tie the game on an A.J. Murray (Georgia Tech) single in the bottom of the eighth, but held on for the win by boxing out of a jam an inning later.
Garrett Williams (Oklahoma State) started for Chatham and gave up two runs in three innings of work, and it was left-handed reliever P.J. Conlon (San Diego) that received the loss after giving up three runs on two hits in 2.1 frames.
“Gelinas throws a great pitch and blows a kid’s bat up and it doesn’t even make it to the outfield grass,” Anglers manager John Schiffner said. “But two runs come in. Sometimes the game just breaks you back. We knew exactly what we wanted to do with the next batter and Jeff makes a great pitch, so no complaints.”
Before the game took a dramatic turn in that top of the ninth, Chatham and Y-D traded punches in the early going. The Anglers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI single by Burleson — one of his two RBI singles in the game. The second baseman, who joined the team late and has moonlighted at third as well, has taken time to settle in and looked to finally do so against Poteet.
Burleson, along with catcher Nick Collins (Georgetown), were the two energy sources for Chatham — Burleson going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Collins finishing 2-for-4 with a run scored.
“I just had good at-bats and kept battling,” Burleson said. “I got a few pitches to hit and I just got them to fall. Coming in here I didn’t really know what to expect, got a few games and got my timing back and now I feel good.”
But the Red Sox fired back almost as soon as Chatham took a lead. An RBI single and a bases loaded walk brought in two runs in the top of the third, and that lead was briefly held before the Anglers knotted the game against at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth.
So when Murray singled in Kal Simmons (Kennesaw State) to make the score 3-3, it was all but inevitable that the game would continue down its jagged, back-and-forth path. But instead of plating one run and fitting into the theme, the Y-D brought home three and made sure that the outlying frame outlined the night.
“It’s good that we don’t have an off day to think about,” right-handed reliever Bryan Goossens (Siena) said. “We just get to get back at it tomorrow and that’ good. Forget about it right away.”